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Solo and Small Ensemble Music Festivals “Take a Village”

Mar 27, 2015

Intense instrument practice is in full swing for many band and orchestra students across Kansas and Missouri. Preparation for annual solo and small ensemble music festivals begins after winter break and continues through the beginning of May. The evaluative music festival’s purpose is to develop and uphold the highest possible performance standards among music students.

According to the official MSHSAA Music Manual, “The music festival system is designed to encourage not only exceptional musicianship, but also a respect for the arts and the discipline necessary to excel. In order for this to occur, students, directors, and all participants and observers must continually maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct, integrity, and courtesy.”

Meyer Music could not agree more with this purpose. Since our founding in 1966, we have partnered with schools, band and orchestra directors, the community, and our private lesson students. It is all in our effort to promote the lifetime and educational benefits of playing an instrument.

The learning experience and knowledge made possible by participating in band or orchestra is infinite. Music students who learn and model playing an instrument over the course of their childhood develop cognitive skills far beyond playing. Playing music teaches problem solving and philosophical principles that last a lifetime, continuing well after childhood even if playing ends.

While many middle schools hold their own versions of the music festival on the district level, actual state competition begins in high school as early as freshman year. The competition begins at the district level, and performances are scored between one and five, one being the highest score. Soloists and small ensembles earning the highest scores from district judges advance to the state level competition in late spring. Ask any band or orchestra student what it feels like to earn a “1” at the state competition and they will be the first to tell you that their hard work paid off.

Hard work and hours of practice it is. Preparing band and orchestra students for the music festival “takes a village” – from students investing many after-school hours in practice, band and orchestra directors staying at school well into the night, and parents who drop off and pick up their children to the volunteers and organizations – to make it happen.

Meyer Music is proud to be one of those organizations. We have been for many, many years and will continue offering our support for many competitions to come.

School districts across the Kansas City metropolitan area participate in the solo and small ensemble music festivals. Meyer Music rents accompaniment pianos, as well as provides accompanists and free bottles of water to districts that host the district-level competition on any given weekend. Sometimes two districts’ competitions fall on the same weekend, requiring over 40 pianos on site.

This is no easy task, but Meyer Music is the only music store in Kansas City with the ability and capacity to supply a large number of pianos – new, perfectly-tuned pianos. “Though it takes a lot of effort on our part, band and orchestra directors count on us to do this. But more importantly, so do the student musicians who have been practicing for months leading up to the competition,” explains Tom Meyer.

Many of the pianos we rent for the music festivals come directly from our sales floors. They are brand new, high quality and in tune. This is key, because an out of tune piano can throw off the best of performers. We understand how hard these students have worked, and we believe they deserve the best piano accompaniment available.

Hundreds of band and orchestra students across the KC metro are currently practicing and preparing for their solo or small ensemble performance at the district level. They are diligently refining their music skills in order to earn a ”one” and move on to the state music festivals in the Spring. Meyer Music is proud to have some of these students – past and present – enrolled in our private music lessons. We are happy to help area band and orchestra teachers ensure students have what they need for class. We are honored to be involved in Band of Angels, which puts instruments into the hands of aspiring students who might otherwise never learn to play due to their family’s financial situation. And we are excited to play a role in Missouri and Kansas's solo and small ensemble music festivals by providing a quality experience by renting new, in-tune pianos to accompany their competition performance.

Good luck to all of the young musicians in this year’s festival.